July 10, 2013 |
Every summer for the last 37 years, Italiano's, a South Philadelphia landmark, has sold a South Philadelphia trademark: water ice. But this summer, the first-floor window of the Italiano home on South 12th Street has never opened to customers. The store, which once sported a hanging white sign reading "Italiano's" in red block letters, has consistently ranked as one of the best water ice and gelato shops in Philadelphia. After the sudden death of the owner's 52-year-old brother, Frankie Italiano, in February, the family decided to pay respects to Frankie and delay the shop's planned summer opening.
July 2, 1989 |
During quiet moments, on and off the job, Bob Tumulo used to spend his time exploring part-time businesses with which he could supplement his pay as a city firefighter. Most never got beyond the inquiry stage. They were too complicated, too expensive, or too risky. Then, in 1984, he thought of water ice, a dessert he learned to love as a youngster in South Philadelphia. And sooner than you can say Rita's (Real Italian) Water Ice, he was in business. He started out the right way. He bought his equipment from a South Philadelphian who had worked in the business for most of life.
November 12, 1987 |
Lawncrest has the usual litany of city problems - rats, abandoned cars, vandalism and illegal dumping. Now comes water ice. At a Lawncrest Community Association meeting Tuesday George and Mary Sebold, of the 400 block of Sanger Street, and some of their neighbors objected to a proposed water-ice window in a building occupied by Sensation Tanning Salon and Hair Tech Unlimited in the 5700 block of Rising Sun Avenue. The Zoning Board of Adjustment has set a hearing for Tuesday on the owners' request for a permit to operate the window during the summer.
June 28, 1993 |
Late last night, Joe Voci locked himself in the study of his Southwest Philadelphia rowhouse and shredded documents. Well, not documents exactly. But labels. Labels to his secret ingredient. "My competitors would kill for it," he said. Joe Voci sells water ice - possibly the fastest-growing, most competitive, most ruthless business in Philadelphia. "We shred everything," said Voci, co-owner of Joe's Water Ice, with two stores in South Philly and one in Southwest.
June 11, 2012 |
Bob Tumolo, who opened the first Rita's-brand summertime water-ice shop in 1984, was a city firefighter from South Philly who sold out, after 20 years, because growing the chain made him tired. And selling it made him rich. Jonathan C. Fornaci, who now runs the 600-store, $140 million-plus (yearly sales) franchise chain from Trevose, has had a career that reads like energy personified: He's a Berkeley-trained physicist, founder of a Silicon Valley venture consultancy (Atomic Tangerine)
June 25, 2013 |
At first glance, having one customer account for a majority of a small business' sales would seem like a good problem to have. Keep that customer happy, and it will be a stable source of revenue. But many entrepreneurs would tell you that nothing keeps them up at night more than worrying about what might happen to their business should that big customer walk away someday. Certainly, that was on Rich Trotter's mind when the Jack & Jill Ice Cream Co. and its fleet of ice cream trucks accounted for 90 percent of the annual sales of S.R. Rosati Inc. , which he bought with some partners 16 years ago. Today, Trotter said he sleeps better because the 101-year-old water-ice manufacturer he owns in Clifton Heights generates the bulk of its sales from a different source: the cafeterias of hundreds of public schools in 35 states.
March 20, 1995 |
Tomorrow is the first day of spring, and water-ice lovers are in for a treat: Rita's Water Ice is offering free cups of its product at its stores, including six Delaware County locations, to herald its official opening for the season. "These are not sample cups of water ice," Robert Tumolo, president and founder of Rita's, said. "This is our first giveaway. And each operator will determine whether to give out medium or smaller cups. " He said the free water ice was a marketing strategy "to make people more aware that we are open.
August 17, 1997 |
Officer Scott Bishop catches sight of them in his rearview mirror, slows down the police cruiser, and prepares. It's a real mob this time, and they're closing in. He may need backup, but he checks his glove compartment and decides he can handle it alone. The mob surrounds the car. Years of police training have taught Bishop to be cautious, to remain calm. As he emerges from the armored safety of the cruiser, Bishop comforts himself with the knowledge that if he can make drug arrests, surely he can deal with a dozen grade-schoolers on dirt bikes.
July 29, 2001 |
As still as Lyn Fuller perched on a stone ledge and wrapped in the private sounds of a soul singer crooning through the headphones of her portable CD player. That's Kelly Drive. As reverent as Michael Cantey bowed in prayer near a metal grating and immersed in praise of the Lord, whom he credits with keeping him free of drugs and alcohol for more than two months. As whimsical as Robert Rasmussen tilted against the blue van that marks his space near Boathouse Row, gleeful in his role as "Chief," the "Everything-for-$1" vendor who's been supplying regulars with pretzels, drinks and water ice for 60 years.
August 6, 2000 |
Summer is not just ice cream. It's snow cones and water ice; sherbet, sorbet and sorbetto; granitas and batidos. All refreshing and flavorful ices. Ices have been a warm-weather ritual for some time. In Persia, sherbet (or sharbat) was a drink of ice or snow sweetened with fruit juice. A fifth-century visitor from China is reported to have observed: "The climate is very hot, and families keep ice in their houses. " This ice was likely brought down from the mountains and stored for the summer months using much the same method as that of Alexander the Great, who supposedly dug out pits and covered them with oak branches so that he would always have cooling snow available.